Supermassive black hole gets kicked to the galactic curb | Science News

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Supermassive black hole gets kicked to the galactic curb

Gravitational waves may have delivered boot toward deep space

By
3:08pm, March 28, 2017
quasar 3C 186

ON ITS WAY OUT  A radiation-gushing supermassive black hole, quasar 3C 186 (second brightest blob in the blue oval), appears to be zooming away from its galaxy’s center (brightest blob in blue oval). The extreme exit may be a result of gravitational waves from merging black holes.

A black hole weighing more than a billion suns appears to have gotten the boot toward the outer edges of its galaxy.

Data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories reveal a supermassive black hole zipping away from the center of its galaxy at a 7.5-million-kilometer-per-hour clip. It’s moving so quickly that it could leave the galaxy for good in 20 million years, says Marco Chiaberge of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

Only gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of spacetime — could give the black hole such a kick, Chiaberge and colleagues report March 30 in Astronomy & Astrophysics. Hints of huge black holes ejected from a galactic center have been reported before (SN: 5/24/08, p. 12). This discovery offers

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